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Walt Disney World Releases Details on Its Affordable Housing Project

Walt Disney World Affordable Housing Project

In April 2022, Walt Disney World announced it was planning to build affordable housing in Central Florida, and it has just released details on a location and developer picked for the project.

About the Project

Walt Disney World plans to build more than 1,300 affordable housing units, which Disney says will be available for qualifying applicants from the general public, which includes Disney cast members.

The development is expected to be privately financed and limited to applicants within a certain income range.

According to Disney, this initiative will help offer a viable solution to one of the nation’s greatest challenges, and will support and build upon Orange County’s Housing for All action plan to address housing affordability for local residents, an action plan brought about by the passion and leadership of Mayor Jerry Demings.

“For more than 50 years, Walt Disney World has cared for and invested in our community, and we’re committed to being a part of this solution which will bring more attainable housing to Central Florida,” Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement.

Walt Disney World to Build Affordable Housing in Central Florida

The Location

The land Disney has contributed for this project is in a spot west of State Road 429, and a few miles north of the new Flamingo Crossings Town Center.

It will have easy access to the Walt Disney World theme parks, and it will also be located near schools, restaurants, and shopping.

Here is a map provided by Disney:

Walt Disney World Affordable Housing Project map

The Developer

Disney has also chosen a company to build, own, and operate the property.

The Michaels Organization, a prominent developer known for creating high-quality homes in communities in many states, will be filling that role.

This initiative will be the company’s first in Orlando, but they already have Florida locations in Fort Pierce, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa.

They have over 425 communities in 35 states, and are the largest private-sector owner of affordable housing in the country.

“We are excited to work with an iconic brand like Disney to deliver attainable housing for the Central Florida community,” John J. O’Donnell, CEO of The Michaels Organization, said in a statement. “Our goal is to create a repeatable model that we hope will inspire other companies and municipalities to create high quality, attainable housing in their own communities.”

Here is the artist rendering for what the Disney housing will look like:

Walt Disney World Affordable Housing Project

The Bottom Line

Affordable housing is much needed in Central Florida, especially by cast members that have to find roommates just to be able to afford the current rents on apartments close to work.

In 2019, local newspaper The Orlando Sentinel produced an award-winning series of articles titled “Laborland,” which examined the lives of Orlando theme park workers who were on average paid less than a living wage and had difficulties finding affordable housing.

Hopefully the rents on this project, which have not been announced yet, will indeed be more affordable for those working minimum wage.

Walt Disney World - Flamingo Crossings Village

In the Flamingo Crossings Town Center area, The Walt Disney Company also runs the Flamingo Crossings Village, which houses cast members (mostly College Program) in dormitory-style apartments that fit two or four people, starting at $649 for a private bedroom and bathroom in an apartment with shared kitchen and living room.

Disney said the project’s construction and operation will also create new jobs in Central Florida, which is another plus.

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